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Wulf Greve (1942–2018)

Helgoland Marine Research201872:9

  • Received: 27 March 2018
  • Accepted: 7 May 2018
  • Published:

It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to our esteemed colleague, Dr. Wulf Greve, who passed away on the 26th of January 2018.

Wulf Greve was one of the founding fathers of zooplankton research at the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland (BAH). When Wulf arrived to do his Ph.D. in the nineteen sixties the BAH was already more than 75 years old and, strangely, no one had seriously worked on zooplankton up until then. Moreover, zooplankton research in general had been, until then, focused mainly on zooplankton in its function as food for fish. Not much work had been carried out on the ecology and phenology of copepods and other zooplankters in the North Sea and especially around Helgoland. This changed when Wulf arrived. Wulf Greve grasped all the experimental opportunities available to him at the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland wholeheartedly and tirelessly. The BAH, which had at that point already been back on the island after its wartime evacuation, for merely a decade before he arrived, was evincing an upswing of experimental ecology and thus, Wulf decided to follow an experimental approach in his research on zooplankton. He courageously focused on gelatinous zooplankton in his early years, which was difficult to sample because of its fragility and which was a nightmare to keep in the laboratory, and much less possible to culture. Undaunted and ingenious, he designed experimental vessels (for example the “Planktonkreisel”) to keep them alive and implemented appropriate methods for culturing them. This allowed him to carry out a suite of very important and groundbreaking experiments on the ecology and physiology of the ctenophore Pleurobrachia pileus. He was among the first to recognize the very strong interactions between Pleurobrachia and Bolinopsis as prey, with two other ctenophore species of the genus Beroe, B. gracilis and B. cucumis as predators. He recognized that each Beroe species specialized on one of the two prey species.

In those early days, German scientists were still very much expected to publish their results in German, as Wulf did, and thus it is even more amazing that despite this, his work made groundbreaking contributions to the world literature on ctenophores.

From the early 1960s, scientists on Helgoland were taking daily samples at Helgoland Roads for physical and chemical parameters such as temperature and salinity and nutrients, and concomitant analysis for determination of the population densities of phytoplankton. Wulf Greve realized soon after finishing his Ph.D., and his following tenure at the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, that in order to achieve a complete understanding of what was happening in the ecosystem it was of utmost importance to monitor the zooplankton as well as the phytoplankton. Thus, he established the zooplankton time series in 1974, and thanks to his tenacity this time series has been running ever since, resulting in many publications on zooplankton dynamics. After establishing the zooplankton time series and seeing the dynamics of the North Sea ecosystem, Wulf became particularly interested in the phenology of zooplankton. Using relationships that he established from the time series, he was able to predict the dynamics of a great many zooplankton species very accurately. His understanding of the dynamics of the system were deep and profound.

In the 1970s Wulf was stationed and worked on Helgoland, and had, as all of the other researchers based on Helgoland, several hats on at the Institute. One of these “hats” was a special one: he was the contact person for the guest-research on the island. Guest science was and is pivotal to the BAH and German marine science. As early as the mid 1800 s, researchers from all over the world had been coming to Helgoland for sampling and experiments. Wulf felt honoured to carry on in this wonderful tradition of the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, especially as he, having travelled extensively himself, valued scientific exchange greatly. In 1982, he left Helgoland and moved to the new headquarters of the BAH, in Hamburg. The locals and scientists alike sorely missed him, with his indomitable enthusiasm and straightforward personality.

Throughout his whole career, no matter where he was stationed, Wulf kept coming back to the ctenophores, his real true love in the plankton. His interest was particularly tickled when the invading ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi was discovered also in the North Sea. Wulf visited Helgoland loyally each summer and many wonderful anecdotal discussions ensued. Close to his retirement in 2007, we supervised a student together, who tested some of the questions that first were posed in Wulf’s 1970 s papers. With this we came full circle to the young Wulf who courageously established experimental zooplankton research on Helgoland.

We are honoured to have been able to work with Wulf, and to have shared a glass of wine on a warm summer evening while discussing the ecology of marine organisms in the context of the “grand scheme of life”. We will always remember him fondly and with deep respect.

Selected key publications of Wulf Greve:

Alheit, J., T. Pohlmann, M. Casini, W. Greve, R. Hinrichs, M. Mathis, K. O’Driscoll, R. Vorberg, and C. Wagner. 2012. Climate variability drives anchovies and sardines into the North and Baltic Seas. Progress in Oceanography 96:128–139.

Boersma, M., A. M. Malzahn, W. Greve, and J. Javidpour. 2007. The first occurrence of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the North Sea. Helgoland marine research 61:153–155.

Boersma, M., K. H. Wiltshire, S.-M. Kong, W. Greve, and J. Renz. 2015. Long-term change in the copepod community in the southern German Bight. Journal of Sea Research 101:41–50.

Bonnet, D., R. Harris, A. Lopez-Urrutia, C. Halsband-Lenk, W. Greve, L. Valdes, H. J. Hirche, M. Engel, M. T. Alvarez-Ossorio, and K. Wiltshire. 2007. Comparative seasonal dynamics of Centropages typicus at seven coastal monitoring stations in the North Sea, English Channel and Bay of Biscay. Progress in Oceanography 72:233–248.

Bonnet, D., A. Richardson, R. Harris, A. Hirst, G. Beaugrand, M. Edwards, S. Ceballos, R. Diekman, A. Lopez-Urrutia, L. Valdes, F. Carlotti, J. C. Molinero, H. Weikert, W. Greve, D. Lucic, A. Albaina, N. D. Yahia, S. F. Umani, A. Miranda, A. dos Santos, K. Cook, S. Robinson, and M. L. F. de Puelles. 2005. An overview of Calanus helgolandicus ecology in European waters. Progress in Oceanography 65:1–53.

Esser, M., W. Greve, and M. Boersma. 2004. Effects of temperature and the presence of benthic predators on the vertical distribution of the ctenophore Pleurobrachia pileus. Marine Biology 145:595–601.

Fock, H. O., and W. Greve. 2002. Analysis and interpretation of recurrent spatio-temporal patterns in zooplankton dynamics: a case study on Noctiluca scintillans (Dinophyceae) in the German Bight (North Sea). Marine Biology 140:59–73.

Greve, W. 1968. The ‘Planktonkreisel’, a new device for culturing zooplankton. Marine Biology 1:201–203.

Greve, W. 1970. Cultivation Experiments on North Sea Ctenophores. Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen 20:304–317.

Greve, W. 1971. Ecological Investigations on Pleurobrachia pileus.1. Field Studies. Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen 22:303–325.

Greve, W. 1972. Ecological Investigations on Pleurobrachia pileus.2. Laboratory Investigations. Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen 23:141–164.

Greve, W. 1977. Interspecific interaction: the analysis of complex structures in carnivorous zooplankton populations. Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen 30:83–91.

Greve, W. 1994. The 1989 German Bight Invasion of Muggiaea atlantica. ICES Journal of Marine Science 51:355–358.

Greve, W. 1995. Mutual Predation Causes Bifurcations in Pelagic Ecosystems—the Simulation-Model Plitch (Planktonic Switch), Experimental Tests, and Theory. ICES Journal of Marine Science 52:505–510.

Greve, W., and T. R. Parsons. 1977. Photosynthesis and fish production: hypothetical effects of climatic change and pollution. Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen 30:666–672.

Greve, W., and F. Reiners. 1988. Plankton time–space dynamics in German Bight North Sea: a systems approach. Oecologia 77:487–496.

Greve, W., and F. Reiners. 1995. Biocoenotic process patterns in the German Bight. Pages 67–71. Biology and ecology of shallow coastal waters. Proc. 28th European marine biology symposium, Iraklio, Crete, 1993.

Greve, W., and F. Reiners. 1996. A multiannual outbreak of the turbellarian Alaurina composita Mecznikow 1865 in the German Bight. Journal of Plankton Research 18:157–162.

Greve, W., J. Stockner, and N. J. Fulton. 1976. Towards a theory of speciation in Beroe. p. 251–258 In G. Meckie [ed.], Coelenterate Ecology and Behaviour. Plenum Press, New York.

Greve, W., F. Reiners, and J. Nast. 1996. Biocoenotic changes of the zooplankton in the German Bight: The possible effects of eutrophication and climate. ICES Journal of Marine Science 53:951–956.

Greve, W., F. Reiners, J. Nast, and S. Hoffmann. 2004. Helgoland Roads meso- and macrozooplankton time-series 1974 to 2004: lessons from 30 years of single spot, high frequency sampling at the only off-shore island of the North Sea. Helgoland marine research 58:274–288.

Greve, W., S. Prinage, H. Zidowitz, J. Nast, and F. Reiners. 2005. On the phenology of North Sea ichthyoplankton. ICES Journal of Marine Science 62:1216–1223.

Gyllenberg, G., and W. Greve. 1979. Studies on Oxygen-Uptake in Ctenophores. Annales Zoologici Fennici 16:44–49.

Halsband-Lenk, C., F. Carlotti, and W. Greve. 2004. Life-history strategies of calanoid congeners under two different climate regimes: a comparison. ICES Journal of Marine Science 61:709–720.

Heyen, H., H. Fock, and W. Greve. 1998. Detecting relationships between the interannual variability in ecological time series and climate using a multivariate statistical approach—a case study on Helgoland Roads zooplankton. Climate Research 10:179–191.

Johns, D. G., M. Edwards, W. Greve, and A. W. G. John. 2005. Increasing prevalence of the marine cladoceran Penilia avirostris (Dana, 1852) in the North Sea. Helgoland marine research 59:214–218.

Mackas, D. L., W. Greve, M. Edwards, S. Chiba, K. Tadokoro, D. Eloire, M. G. Mazzocchi, S. Batten, A. J. Richardson, C. Johnson, E. Head, A. Conversi, and T. Peluso. 2012. Changing zooplankton seasonality in a changing ocean: Comparing time series of zooplankton phenology. Progress in Oceanography 97:31–62.

Perry, R. I., H. P. Batchelder, D. L. Mackas, S. Chiba, E. Durbin, W. Greve, and H. M. Verheye. 2004. Identifying global synchronies in marine zooplankton populations: issues and opportunities. ICES Journal of Marine Science 61:445–456.

Schlüter, M. H., A. Merico, K. H. Wiltshire, W. Greve, and H. von Storch. 2008. A statistical analysis of climate variability and ecosystem response in the German Bight. Ocean Dynamics

Schlüter, M. H., A. Merico, M. Reginatto, M. Boersma, K. H. Wiltshire, and W. Greve. 2010. Phenological shifts of three interacting zooplankton groups in relation to climate change. Global Change Biology 16:3144–3153.

Wiltshire, K. H., A. M. Malzahn, K. Wirtz, W. Greve, S. Janisch, P. Mangelsdorf, B. F. J. Manly, and M. Boersma. 2008. Resilience of North Sea phytoplankton spring blooms dynamics: an analysis of long term data at Helgoland Roads. Limnology and Oceanography 53:1294–1302.


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Authors’ Affiliations

Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Waddensea Station, Hafenstraße 43, 25992 List/Sylt, Germany
Universität Hamburg, Biozentrum Klein, Flottbek, Ohnhorstr 18, 22609 Hamburg, Germany
Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, P.O.BOX 180, 27483 Helgoland, Germany